Friday, September 5, 2014

End of Summer

We've been really busy the past week so this is going to be a full post. Many kids are going back to school this week and if DJ were going to go to preschool, he likely would have started sometime this month so I'm starting to feel like our homeschooling is getting to be a bit more "official". So far we haven't done any back to school special activities. We still "do school" at DJ's whim. Whenever he decides to choose something from his Montessori shelves is when school happens.

As I've said many times before, a big part of early Montessori learning is Care of the Environment, one of the many aspects of Practical Life. The spray bottle he's using had a bit of soap in it, but it's mostly warm water. That, a sponge and a towel was all he needed to clean off his table and chairs. His attention to detail when he does this is remarkable.  And it's nice to see that he now has the finger dexterity to use the spray bottle.

DJ worked with the Geometric Solids for a short time this week. He likes to set the round shapes on their pedestals. In this photo he is matching the 3D sides to their corresponding 2D shapes. The rectangle can be matched to both the triangular prism and rectangular prism.

After laying this blanket out, I guess DJ thought it reminded him of a work mat so he chose to work with a knobbed cylinder block on it. For once he chose only one cylinder block so he was able to complete it and return it to the shelf without getting overwhelmed.

For gross motor skills, DJ has been doing a LOT of bike riding lately. He is almost able to pedal his tricycle now! He doesn't have the strength to get it started but he can keep up the momentum if I give him a push first. He's also been riding his balance bike a lot too and is gaining speed with it.

DJ is *almost* beginning to understand what a pattern is. He filled in the disks in the back set, which doesn't seem to have any discernible pattern. But then he began to copy it on the front set, all blues, then greens. He must have gotten distracted after the third green because this is how he left it.

Later, I set up one of the bases with a pattern (seen in the back). He isn't copying my pattern here but he's making one of his own. Again, all blue then all green. After this photo he began to add a yellow layer before losing interest.

The smelling bottles are still a favorite choice. Not only are they good for the olfactory sense, they also make a good open/close activity. Love that look of focus on his face!

Speaking of focus, the Ryan's Room Sew 'n Sew continues to be a challenge. He forgets when he threads the needle through to then pull the yarn all the way through before going to the next hole.  This means that after just a couple of holes, he's out of room and can't thread anymore.  It's also challenging for him to unthread it on his own.  Lots of growth opportunity still left in this simple toy.

You'll also notice that the last few activities were all done at the sofa instead of his work mat. He was doing these activities while I was sitting on the sofa doing bookkeeping work (TV as the computer monitor with a wireless keyboard and mouse) and he wanted to stay close to me.

As I was finishing up my work, DJ selected the Geometric Solids again (seen in the basket by the sofa). I suggested he get his work mat to have a flat surface. For some reason, as he rolled out his work mat he suddenly became fascinated with it. Although he's been using the mat since May, this time he rolled and unrolled it over and over again for nearly 20 minutes. In this photo, he has his head to the ground watching the layers unravel as he rolls the mat out flat. The mechanics of the real world at work before his eyes.  This sort of repetition and concentration is a core principle of Montessori, and it's entirely child-driven.  He would have rolled his eyes at me for sure if I'd said rolling the mat for 20 minutes was on our lesson plan for the day!  But he had something he needed to learn from this process and I was glad he had the time and space to do it.

DJ can easily count objects up to 3 now. He laid out these blocks one at a time, counting 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, etc until he was done. Then he clapped for himself! For those of you who are curious, if you look closely you'll see these blocks have the periodic table of the elements on them. Haha.  He received them for Christmas last year. We'll have to hang onto these for elementary when he begins to learn about such things.

DJ recently decided that shadows are weird and scary. Before bed at night he began to whine, "but they're looking at me!" It broke my heart as he seemed so scared despite my insistence that shadows can't hurt him. So I bought him this book, Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch, which teaches all about shadows in a simple way. Diehard Montessorians won't like that it's about an anthropomorphic bear, but I had few choices and this one has worked wonders for DJ. It very clearly explains what shadows are and how they change as the source of light changes (in this case, the location of the sun).

Since we've begun reading the book, DJ is noticing shadows everywhere, not just the scary ones in his room at night. He's identifying where the light source is that creates the shadow and the object that is in the way of the light which defines the shadow's shape. I can gradually see a confidence developing in him as shadows become less scary the more he understands them. I love that Montessori encourages me to give him all the real details on a topic like this and not assume he's too little to understand. He is capable of so much more than I ever would have imagined!


  1. Hi Michelle, thanks for visiting my blog, I'm excited to hat someone to share the journey with. I can especially relate to what you wrote in your profile about him learning so fast you can hardly keep up! I feel like I'm playing catch up all the time!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jo! It's going to be fun to see how the "school year" progresses.